It was all smiles for Zimbabwe race goers after Zimbabwean-bred horses finished second and third in the Zimbabwe National Army Handicap and dished out huge financial pickings for the punters who backed them all the way to the tilt.
By Michael Kariati
Although coming from different stables, it was second and third place for Captain’s Tiger from the Alyson Wright yard and Forty One from the Lisa Harris stable, who strongly challenged South Africa’s Equina for one of the early big races of the season.
More importantly was the fact that the seven and four-year-old Zimbabwean horses rewarded their horde of followers with good financial spin offs as they paid out handsomely to those who believed in their ability.
Whoever partnered Captain’s Tiger and Forty One in the swingers got a cool US$77,40 from a dollar. Equina and Captain’s Tiger gave out US$11,10 while Equina and Forty One paid out US$13,30.
The trifecta of Equina, Captain’s Tiger, and Forty One gushed out US$669,70 for every dollar placed.
Captain’s Tiger opened betting at 10/1 but offered more on closing by offering 14/1. But it was Forty One who was the highest paying of the placed horses by closing at 50/1 after opening at 20/1.
This means the bookmakers saw no chance in Forty One to finish as the winner in the race.
The overwhelming favourite was obviously Equina who opened at 2/1 and closed at 17/10. This was Equina’s first running of the season after a successful 2013/14 season in which she gave memorable times to trainer Amy Bronkhorst.
The seven-year-old Captain’s Tiger was born in Zimbabwe as the son of Century Stud of Australia and Beautiful Life of Zimbabwe while four-year-old grey Forty One was born out of Gharir of Ireland and Sweet Alliance of Zimbabwe.
Even more heartening was the fact that the two placed horses were the only Zimbabwean fieldings in the 12 horse race, finishing far ahead of nine South African horses and another one bred in Argentina.
But we need more of the younger generation of Zimbabwean horses to be challenging for honours instead of the seven-year- olds like Captain’s Tiger who are slowly getting out of the racing picture.
There are fewer Zimbabwean horses that race in Grade One and Grade Two races. Apart from Captain’s Tiger and Forty One, the other Zimbabwean horses that qualify to participate in such high-class races are Pleasant Valley and Final Fling which are not good enough compared to those coming from South Africa.
Grade One races, for which the Castle Tankard is the only one in Zimbabwe, are considered the highest form of competition a horse can take part in. South Africa’s most popular racing event — the Durban July — falls in this category too. Jockey S’manga Khumalo who races in Zimbabwe won the Durban July last season.
The Zimbabwe National Army Charity Handicap is Grade Three race.
The OK Grand Challenge and the Republic Cup are the only grade Two races in Zimbabwe.
The next race meeting at Borrowdale Race Course comes next Sunday. Unlike in South Africa where racing is on a regular basis, racing in Zimbabwe comes after a fortnight.